Hopes, expectations and delusions
Judging by a recent statement by SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou, the governing party would have liked to have seen a Geert Wilders victory in the Netherlands, in the sense that this would have caused turbulence in Europe, prompting Greece’s lenders to seek a political solution with Athens. This was just another fantasy harbored by the coalition in Athens, as at no time in the course of the crisis have the lenders indicated that such a thing would be possible. SYRIZA also hopes that Jeroen Dijsselbloem – for some reason abhorred by the leftists even though he is not being among Greece’s staunchest critics – will be replaced as Eurogroup chief, even though he keeps repeating that he is not planning to step down. This hope is naturally combined with expectation that Martin Schulz’s Social Democrats will win Germany’s elections in September. The idea is that Dijsselbloem’s departure from the Eurogroup’s presidency can be spun as a victory for Athens, while a Schulz win could change Germany’s stance toward Greece with the departure of that other maligned figure, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. We can’t know whether the leftists also harbor a desire that Marine Le Pen will win in France. No one from SYRIZA has said so, but this would follow the reasoning that chaos in Europe could lead to a political solution for Greece. The purpose of all this wishful thinking is, of course, to relieve pressure on the government so it can stay in power until 2019 and possibly improve its image by then. The fact that this would mean the bailout review dragging on until September seems irrelevant. Just as SYRIZA and Independent Greeks couldn’t care less about the negative effects their games have on the country, they have no qualms about delaying the review as long as possible and all else be damned. Everything about their attitude and behavior suggests that they are already on this path; let’s hope they prove us wrong. The issue, however, has divided SYRIZA between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his close aides, who want to see out the four-year mandate in the hope of a miracle (a rebound in popularity) or because they are terrified of a crushing defeat, and those pressing for snap polls before the review is finished. This latter camp believes that the government and the leftist party are already on the wane and that things will only get worse the longer the current situation drags on. They want elections to contain some of the damage to the party and hand the problem of the measures that would be required for an agreement with the creditors to the next government. In the meantime, however, SYRIZA is dragging the rest of us down with it.